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The Indiana Daily Student

city crime & courts

Bloomington woman charged with hate crime in IU student stabbing case found competent for trial

Crime Filler

The Bloomington woman charged with a federal hate crime after allegedly stabbing an 18-year-old Asian IU student was found competent to stand trial during a U.S. District Court hearing Wednesday.  

In September, a psychiatrist said 57-year-old Billie Davis was mentally unstable and incompetent to undergo trial. On Wednesday, forensic psychologist Lesli Johnson testified that Davis’ mental state has improved, and she is now competent.  

According to court documents, Johnson spent five hours interviewing Davis during her six-week stay at a federal detention center in Houston, Texas. Johnson said Davis has borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance-use disorder.  

Johnson testified Davis understands how the court system works and will be able to assist federal public defender Leslie Wine with her own defense. Wine, who had planned to argue insanity in defense of Davis, agreed.  

“She is competent,” Wine said, according to court documents. “She is presently able to assist me.”  

Davis is accused of stabbing an IU student in the head with a pocketknife about seven times on a Bloomington Transit Bus. On Jan. 11, 2023, Davis and the victim were on Bloomington Transit Bus 1777 when it stopped at the intersection of West Fourth Street and the B-line trail. According to a probable cause affidavit, security footage from the bus shows Davis unfolding a knife as the victim stands and prepares to exit the bus. As the then-IU freshman waited for the doors to open, Davis reportedly stood up and stabbed her repeatedly on the top of the head. The footage then shows Davis putting the knife back in her pocket and returning to her seat on the bus.  

An ambulance transported the victim to the hospital, where doctors found multiple stab wounds to her head. Security footage shows no prior interactions on the bus between Davis and the victim.  

Davis originally faced state charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery by means of a deadly weapon, but all charges except the federal hate crime charge were dropped.  

Davis told authorities she targeted the woman because of the victim’s Asian ethnicity, according to the probable cause affidavit. A few days after the attack, the attorney representing Davis at the time said he was seeking an insanity defense.  

U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt asked what caused the abrupt change in Davis’ mental state. Wine attributed the improvement to Abilify, an antipsychotic medication that balances the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain to help treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, according to the medication’s website.  

During Davis’ stint in Texas, she was prescribed Abilify among other medications and received an injection, helping her psychosis subside.  

“She's able to understand the charges against her and has the ability to aid in her defense," Johnson said. "The symptoms she may have experienced do not interfere with these things." 

Wine asked Pratt to put protections in place to ensure Davis’ mental health condition remains stable. She requested Davis, now in the Knox County Jail in Vincennes, Indiana, continue receiving injections and spend less time in isolation, according to court documents.  

Wine said she will file a motion for a final pretrial hearing Feb. 22, explaining she and the federal prosecutor are discussing a possible plea agreement to avoid a trial. 

If they do not reach a plea deal, the trial by jury will take place March 11.

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